June 22nd, 2024

Women’s rights being eroded in Afghanistan, SACPA told

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 3, 2022.

Since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in 2021, women’s rights in the landlocked central Asian nation have increasingly become a question mark.

The Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs hosted a local Afghan immigrant Thursday to discuss the plight of women’s rights in that country. Speaking about recent developments under the Taliban’s rule, she discussed with audiences the history and struggles women have undergone and how they are still fighting for their rights.

“I’m giving an insider’s view on what is actually going on in Afghanistan. Discussing the challenges and problems that the whole general population is facing. But also focusing on what is happening with women in Afghanistan and the challenges they are facing,” she said. “That is something that has been very significant in the past year in Afghanistan. Because when the Taliban took over, they were expecting the people to be as obedient as they were back in the 1990s. But women, with their civil resistance, showed that they are different than the women the Taliban ruled over in the ’90s.”

She immigrated to Canada in 2016, and before coming here she co-founded a non-profit organization in Afghanistan focusing on women’s and children’s rights.

“In the past 20 years a lot has changed from 2001 to 2021,” she stated. “People are more hopeful. Although the last 10 years have not been as good as the first few years, we still had challenges but we are still hopeful. Woman were able to do everything that other woman in other parts of the world were able to do. They got educated, they started working everywhere, they could go abroad for their education and become entrepreneurs. But on August 15, 2021 the Taliban seized the Afghan capital of Kabul. It was heartbreaking for all of us.”

Speaking of the struggles of Afghan women, she notes they are viewed as objects not people.

“The Taliban do not consider women as human beings,” she said. “Women for them are just people who should be homemakers, staying at home and just keep the population up. Women do not have access to the basic human rights such as accessing health care, and going to school.”

She notes the greater connection to the world helps women see they are not alone in standing up for their rights.

“Back in the 1990s I wouldn’t have any idea what is happening all over the world when I was in Afghanistan,” she said. “But now after 20 years, we have seen everything women have to offer. Afghan people, especially women, have been all over the world becoming whatever they want to become. Right now, it is very heartbreaking because they know what they can be and now they do not have the opportunity to become that.”

Hoping her discussion sparks awareness of current events in Afghanistan, SACPA’s talk helped audiences understand the predicament of woman’s rights and how elsewhere in the world it is still an ongoing struggle.

“People all over the world need to know what is happening,” she said. “Do not trust whatever governments are conveying to them, because most of the time these governments have helped the Taliban to be in power. We are not counting on governments anymore, we are counting on people and we are counting on human rights organizations. Somehow to help us and find a solution to the problem that is in Afghanistan.”

Editor’s note: Due to personal safety concerns expressed by the speaker regarding the political regime in Afghanistan, The Herald has agreed not to publish her name in this story.

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